Factory had more number of workers and sheds than permitted
From flawed design of factory sheds to manufacturing unauthorised cracker goods, the cracker unit near Chekkanoorani, where a fire accident claimed the lives of four employees on Tuesday, had blatantly violated safety norms for the fireworks units.
An inspection of the unit by Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organisation on Wednesday revealed that were other violations of safety norms under the Explosives Rules 2008 than the mixing of chemicals under tree shade that led to a deafening blast in which 18 persons were injured.
The Deputy Chief Controller of Explosives (in-charge), R. Venugopal and Deputy Controller of Explosives Sheik Hussain conducted a thorough inspection of the V.B.M. Anandam fireworks unit.
As against the norms of only three working sheds permitted for the factory, licensed by the District Revenue Officer, this unit had 12 working sheds, Mr. Venugopal told The Hindu.
Besides, the factory that was given licence in 2002 did not have the mandatory magazine room meant for stocking finished goods. While not more than 10 employees were permitted on the premises, the very fact that 22 persons were injured showed that the unit had employed more workers.
Only the office rooms which are located far away from the working sheds are allowed to have electricity connection. However, at this factory, one of the small sheds located in close quarters to four working sheds had power connection.
The unit has been licensed to manufacture only chorsa (crackers of smaller size in series), flower pots, chakra and ‘mini atom bombs’. However, the officials found that bigger firecrackers, including rockets and string crackers containing 5,000 and 10,000 pieces, large-sized ‘atom bombs’ were being produced on the factory premises.
Plastic shells, which are banned, too were used in the units. Paper tubes of bigger sizes that are used for multi-shot crackers were also found on the premises. “Such fancy crackers are permitted only in those units that are given licence by PESO,” Mr. Venugopal said.
The norms of maintaining minimum distance of 10 metres between working sheds were violated. “The minimum distance was as less as three metres in some cases,” he said.
Similarly, while the working sheds needed to have doors (openings) on both sides, few sheds had doors on only one side. The doors of adjacent working sheds should not face each other to prevent spark from one shed triggering fire in the other shed. “We find the working sheds facing each other. There is no structure in-between them,” he added.
The rules clearly stated that no material that could pose a potential obstruction for free movement of workers and transportation of chemicals to and from the working sheds, but the owner allowed additional shelters with asbestos sheets outside many working sheds.
“It looks like the materials were stocked inside the working sheds and people were working sitting in the open area under the extended structures,” Mr. Venugopal said.
The units had to maintain a vacant land of minimum of 45 metres inside the fencing. But, here the distance was less than four metres.